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In the wake of the child abuse tragedy at Penn State, Oregon has passed new legislation expanding its mandatory child abuse reporter list to include ALL employees of colleges and universities. This new law takes effect January 1, 2013, and is both a professional and personal obligation. It is important that all EOU faculty and staff understand their child abuse reporting obligations with the advent of this new law. (HB 4016, ORS 419B.010)
Certain OUS/EOU employees (child care workers, medical care providers, lawyers) have always been considered “public and private officials” covered under Oregon’s mandatory abuse reporting law. For those individuals, nothing has changed. What’s new is that the law will now define ALL university employees as “public and private officials” making them mandatory child abuse reporters as well. The law does not cover volunteers, contractors, or students who are not employees (unless the student happens to work in a profession that is otherwise covered in the mandatory reporter list).
You must immediately report to the Department of Human Services (DHS) or law enforcement if you have “reasonable cause to believe” that any child with whom you come into contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom you come into contact has abused a child. A child is any unmarried person under 18 years of age.
It is important to understand that the child abuse reporting obligation is a personal obligation,and goes beyond the workplace. This means that you are a mandatory child abuse reporter 24/7, and you are required to report suspected child abuse anytime, anywhere. In other words, whether you learn of suspected abuse or a suspected abuser while at work, while coaching your child’s soccer team, or when shopping for groceries on the weekend, your reporting obligation is the same.
The report should be made orally in the county where the reporter is located at the time of the suspicious contact. You can reach Union County’s abuse reporting line during normal business hours (Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm) by calling 1-866-538-5804, extension 272. After normal business hours, you should contact the Union County Sheriff’s Office at 541-963-1017. If the situation is an emergency or a child is at imminent risk, call 911 immediately.
If known, the report should include:
A failure to report is a Class A criminal violation of the law and carries a maximum penalty of $2,000. Some mandatory reporters have also been sued for damages in civil court for failure to report.
Below is a summary of what is generally considered abuse. The complete legal definition (ORS 491B.005) can be viewed at http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/419b.html.
“Abuse” does not include reasonable discipline unless the discipline results in one of the conditions described above.
Anyone participating in good faith in making a child abuse report has immunity from any criminal or civil liability. This immunity is also in place with respect to participation in any subsequent judicial proceeding. To the extent possible, your identity as the reporter will be kept confidential. (ORS 419B.025)
The Department of Human Services has a Mandatory Reporter training video available for view on its website at: http//www.oregon.gov/dhs/abuse/pages/mandatory_report.aspx. The video runs roughly 25 minutes, and provides valuable information to help understand what it means to be a mandatory reporter. DHS also has a detailed booklet, titled, “What You Can Do About Child Abuse,”which provides additional support materials to help inform mandatory reporters of their obligations. That booklet can be found at: https://apps.state.or.us/Forms/Served/de9061.pdf.
The Union Country District Attorneys Office has provided this link to information that was covered in the Mandatory Reporting Training that was held on campus. http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/abuse/mandatory_report.shtml
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